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03 Guides 4 Glaciers

Mountain Sense

Mountain Sense is a podcast that gets behind the scenes in the world of mountain professionals.  Guests include guides, outdoor educators, avalanche forecasters, SAR team members, athletes, trainers, and more.  Whether you are a fledgling guide worried about glacial abatement, or a grizzled rope slinger more concerned with personal hairline abatement, or a recreational climber and skier looking to gain some insight and entertainment from the world of mountain guides, or one of the bravest of the brave who put up with our crap as loved ones and partners, this show is worth your time.  Joking aside, the bottom line is we all want to have fun in the mountains and come home safely.  Mountain Sense is here to dig into the mindset that the top professionals use to achieve that goal, and disseminate it out to a broader audience.

03 Guides 4 Glaciers

Eddie Schoen

Kel Rossiter ( and Taylor Luneau come on to talk about their project, Guides 4 Galciers.  G4G is a movement/collective that aims to leverage our community of guides to promote awareness about and enact change to fight climate change.  Check out more...

Post-interview notes from Kel:

Specific: Not sure if it was mentioned during the conversation, but a statistic that seems particularly applicable given the current political discussion/climate:  As of July 2018 there were 50,600 jobs in the US coal industry.  There are 73,200 jobs in the ski industry.  So, it is useful to put "coal jobs" into perspective as a front burner political talking point and to realize that even an industry as small as skiing eclipses coal jobs.  And prioritizing coal jobs is as close to killing the goose that lays the golden egg as it gets.  I realize that this is discussing skiing versus mountain guiding, but since skiing is a much larger force, things related to mountain guiding must be extrapolated from the ski industry and ski income is central to the economics of the mountain culture guides live within and, lastly, many mountain guides seasonally work in the ski industry, so the ability to continue guiding is predicated on a healthy ski economy.

Specific: I believe we did mention it at the outset of the conversation, but it could make for useful verbage in a written intro:  A May 2013 issue of Nat Geo said "guides are portals to the outdoor world".

Specific: The average American spends $4614 annually on outdoor recreation.  By 2018 the combined impact is projected to be 5.8 billion.

Specific:  According to "Impacts on the Ski Industry" (Wobus, et al, 2017), virtually all ski locations will be seeing declines in season length by 2050.  This figure easily translates into a picture of a much shortened income season for mountain guides.

General:  In our conversation, I think we were focused primarily on economic impacts.  One other very important, very relevant aspect that should be highlighted is guide (and by extension, client) safety in the mountains.  As mountain conditions continue to deteriorate there will be increased glacial navigation hazards and increased rockfall.  Additionally, fluctuating weather creates more challenging ice conditions for guiding and also creates more wet loose and wet slab problems for those in avalanche terrain.  

General:  In our conversation, I believe we were focusing primarily on the problem and building a case for G4G.  I'm hoping in the intro you could include some action steps (Taylor please chime in): 

Guides--particularly those in larger operations like Exum, CMS, AAI, etc--consult with the management of your guide service to promote the creation of a page on the company website that discusses how climate change is affecting the terrain that the service guides in.

Guides--particularly those in larger operations like Exum, CMS, AAI, etc--consult with the management of your guide service to create a program similar to the "Kayak-Pick-Give" program featured through THIS KAYAK COMPANY.  Basically, it's a program whereby clients enrolling for an adventure get to donate a portion ($2 in this case) of their enrollment fee to their selection from a portfolio of companies engaged in positive environmental work relevant to sea kayaking in Alaska.  In doing so, it 1) raises funds, 2) allows clients to educate themselves more about the organizations and the issues, and 3) connects those companies with these clients. 

Full Embarrassing disclosure:  The above are still "to-do" items for my own operation.

Guides--particularly those in larger operations like Exum, CMS, AAI, etc--consult with the management of your guide service to create develop a sustainability plan the organization will follow to hit self-decided targets for climate neutral/positive operations by target dates.  Investigate building that into their permit proposals.  Both of these actions could help raise the bar for guide operations overall and influence other operators.

(Lastly) Guides--particularly those in larger operations like Exum, CMS, AAI, etc--consult with the management of your guide service to encourage clients to participate in carbon offset programs.  Carbon offsets are a challenging topic, as there is discussion about the "buying of indulgences" kind of spirit it evokes and each company suggesting them should thoroughly review the market to suggest well-rated options, but in any case it is a useful and necessary step.


Additional resources courtesy of TK and Taylor:


AMGA state of the guiding agency:


Climate Impacts on the Winter Tourism Economy:

Note: I believe I may have incorrectly pronounced Elizabeth Burkowski's last name, which is a shame as I never do that and it' important that she gets credit for the hard and valuable work that she's done. 


Yale Program on Climate Change Communication:

Partisan Climate Opinion Maps 2016:


James Balog TED Talk: Time Lapse Proof of extreme ice lost


Last Ascents: Kitty Calhoun TED Talk:


Betts, Allan. Climate Change in Vermont. 2011.


Guides For Glaciers on Mammut Athlete Blog:


Outdoor Industry Association: The Outdoor Recreation Economy


Outdoor Industry Association's position on Climate Change: